Despite the challenges he faced this year, EJ Obiena showed that he is part of the world’s elite.
The 24-year-old shone brightly on the world stage, tallying a one gold, two silvers, and three bronzes ledger in the 2020 pole-vaulting season.
And the product of University of Santo Tomas remains grateful for the opportunity to compete despite the uncertainties in the sporting world.
“We finally come to say goodbye to the weird 2020 season. My 2019 self wouldn’t have predicted that 2020 would be so unpredictable. It has been a roller-coaster ride since January, and still doesn’t show signs of slowing down,” Obiena said.
“Thank you so much everyone who has been a part of this weird season. I would like to think we did okay considering everything. One one’s, two two’s, and three three’s, with a total of six out of eight decent finishes. Let’s bounce to 2021 with the lessons of 2020 and keep moving forward.”
After the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, Obiena — who holds the national record at 5.81-meters — flew to Italy to train for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, though, led to competitions stopping, his training halting, and, ultimately, the Tokyo Olympics being moved to 2021.
Fortunately for the second-generation trackster, he was able to resume, and later on, compete.
His hard work paid off during the Golden Spike meet in the Czech Republic that saw him leap 5.74-meters to win gold. In fact, he was able to overcome stiff competition there, including the likes of Renaud Lavillenie, Sam Kendricks, and Thiago Braz.
Obiena made sure to pay tribute to his head coach Vitaly Petrov, who never got tired in training him.
“Thank you Coach Vitaly as always you just are incredible maybe even more.
“Patient as a human can be with me especially thru those rough months. Thank you for all the support you have given me this year. You motivated, pushed, and even carried me thru and thru this season,” said the Filipino-Chinese athlete.
Besides Petrov, Braz is also helping Obiena. The Brazilian won gold in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“The guy I basically see every day since the lockdown, Thiago! Probably tired of seeing my face by now. What a year this is. This season has been rough and tough to say the least. Thanks for having my back and I forever got yours.”
Dad Emerson could not help but be in awe of what his son achieved this year. For him, the incoming break EJ will get is much-deserved.
“Well done EJ. Now you can take your much needed break. Thank you coach Vitali for looking after my son.”